July 11 2014: The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), which represents 30% of all GPs in Ireland, is calling on the Government to withdraw the impetuous statement on free GP care for over 70s, and to meet and engage with doctors before any further policy changes regarding general practice are announced.

This follows a complete lack of communication on the new plan regarding free medical cards for over 70s.

On Wednesday, July 9, Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dáil that everyone over 70 will be entitled to free GP services, after discussions between Mr Kenny and new Tánaiste and Labour Party leader Joan Burton about key priorities in the run up to the Cabinet reshuffle.

However, no discussion with doctors’ representative bodies has taken place regarding the feasibility, cost, or ramifications of this new plan – originally proposed by Health Minister James Reilly and then scrapped by the same Government.

The NAGP calls on this Labour government to allow GPs to be properly represented by their Union without the restrictions imposed by the Competition Authority.

The Labour party is the oldest political party in the country, being over 100 years old; founded as the political wing of the Trade Union movement by Larkin, Connolly and O’Brien. The way that GPs are being dealt with by this government and its Labour party Tánaiste owes more to the spirit of William Martin Murphy than it does to the founding fathers of the Labour party.

“The inexplicable back and forth on the issue of free medical cards for the over 70s is only part of the bigger problem, which is that this plan has clearly been written on the back of an envelope with absolutely no discussion with family doctors – the ones who will be implementing it,” said NAGP CEO Chris Goodey. “We are concerned with what appears to be point scoring on the part of the Government – currently eager for positive press – with no thought or proper planning behind it.”

According to Mr Kenny, the Government is considering “a number of options” in the roll-out of primary cares services, including the over 70s.

“This is news to us,” Mr Goodey continued. “GPs should always be consulted regarding changes to service provision. The continued government policy of announcing vote catching giveaways in times of austerity is a real worry. There is obviously a lack of any consistent, coherent policy on health.”

For further information please contact Sandra Ryan of First Medical Communications on 083 449 9119 or sryan@firstmedical.ie